Monday, January 11, 2010

Really, Reilly?

I've been busy over the past week with family issues and family visits; one was fun - the other, was not.

Anyway, in between the worrying and the entertainment I've been reading one of Australia's favourite writers, Matthew Reilly. I've read Ice Station, Area 7, Temple and now I'm up to Contest. His latest book, The Five Greatest Warriors made it to the top of the 2009 bestseller list. That is, it was the top seller for 2009, out selling the likes of Bryce Courtney, Tim Winton and Di Morrissey.

Contest is Reilly's first book to write, but it will be the last one I read.

Reilly's books are roller-coasters of action and adventure, of quests and rescue, of derring-do and fantastical stunts - in fact, I kept hearing the James Bond theme while reading.

It's the inconsistencies that pissed me off. Using Methadone instead of Morphine, a Maghook with amazing capabilities, anatomy that doesn't seem affected by gravity, conversations that no-one but Superman could hear and give a reply, plus more villains tossed in than you can shake a whippy stick at.

But he does the right thing in having cliff-hangers at the end of chapters, characters that seem larger than life, atypical villains, resolutions that are, like, wow! The Abrahams tank falling from the airplane was just gobsmacking. In a lot of places you can see which movie they came from, for example.

These books are terrific for the young adult - if you move passed the bad language - but for those who've read Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith, or other adventure books, the plot problems leap out and should have been fixed.

I know Elroy said, "I just cut out the boring bits" when he writes, but sometimes, those boring bits serve a purpose if only to get the author to think about whether something is possible or not.

As escapist fiction, they're a sugar rush - if you ignore the impossibilities - but if you like your work with more realism, give them a miss, or give them to the teenagers of the family - it's virtually guarranteed they will love them.

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